A number of road and sidewalk projects in Morrisville are underway, the town’s chief traffic expert said Tuesday.
And in the next decade, he said, the town can expect to receive nearly $100 million worth of road and greenway construction from the state and federal governments.
Some of the work includes a traffic light at Town Hall Drive and McCrimmon Parkway, and a months-long road closure on Morrisville Parkway that’s expected to begin in early 2016.
Many of the projects will cause short-term headaches for drivers, but will make in-town traffic better in the future, said Benjamin Howell, Morrisville’s transportation planner.
Mayor Pro Tem Liz Johnson said Morrisville needs to brag about its own work, as well as state and federal investments.
“This is really significant, the amount of projects that are coming,” she said.
Howell said he would update the town’s transportation webpage and hopes to make it easier for residents to learn about the projects.
Projects that are being monitored or funded by the town include:
▪ The McCrimmon Parkway extension, also known as the N.C. 54 Bypass. Planning is nearly finished for the new road. It will extend McCrimmon Parkway from N.C. 54 east to Perimeter Park Drive, then to Airport Boulevard and finally Aviation Parkway. It’s intended to open up land for development and ease traffic on N.C. 54.
▪ The turn lanes on Morrisville-Carpenter Road onto Town Hall Drive. The turn lanes should be done in the next month or so, Howell said, and there could be some road closures in the meantime that will be announced on the town’s website.
▪ A sidewalk on Church Street. Construction is expected to begin this fall or winter, a bit behind schedule. “We’ve had a lot of trouble getting construction easements from one property owner,” Howell said.
▪ The 1.7-mile Shiloh Greenway. It’s been planned since 2002 and is finished, about 18 months behind schedule. An estimated 10 percent of Morrisville lives within walking distance of the greenway.
▪ Watkins Road. Wake Technical Community College will work on the road from 2016-18 as part of the new campus its building in the area.
▪ Town Hall Drive. A housing developer plans to extend Town Hall Drive beyond McCrimmon Parkway sometime in the next few years. The developer will pay for a traffic light at the intersection, which Howell said has been needed for quite some time. “We’ll work with the developer to make sure that signal gets put in as soon as possible,” he said.
Projects receiving state funding include:
▪ $3 million for work on Louis Stevens Road, scheduled for 2021.
▪ $29 million to widen Aviation Parkway, scheduled for 2022-24.
▪ $34 million to widen N.C. 54, scheduled for 2023-25.
Morrisville officials will consider a proposal Sept. 22 to spend $936,000 to complete $4.7 million worth of sidewalk and bike lane projects. The remaining funds would be provided by a state grant.
The projects are bike lanes on Morrisville Parkway and sidewalks on a number of roads around town.
The federal government is also expected to pitch in most of the $8 million to connect Morrisville’s Crabtree Creek Greenway system with Cary and Raleigh greenways to the west and east.
Part of Morrisville Parkway will be closed for six to nine months in early 2016, most likely between February and April. That’s to allow the construction of a new railroad bridge that will take trains over Morrisville Parkway, instead of stopping traffic to roll by.
The rail crossing, where the road will be closed, is between Park West Village and Preston.
The bridge construction is being funded by the 2009 federal stimulus package known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Another major project, the McCrimmon Parkway extension, was a key part of the bond referendum voters approved in 2012. But the cost ballooned in the planning stages, exceeding the $14.3 million voters approved.
Morrisville officials learned the N.C. DOT had been planning a similar project and decided to join forces with the agency. The road will now be $25.2 million, but it will be slightly behind schedule from when it was a Morrisville-only project.
Once the extension is complete, Raleigh developer Jeff Ammons will build the Western Wake Competition Center on the road. It will have hockey, volleyball and gymnastics facilities that are expected to generate revenue for local businesses by hosting travel tournaments, camps and possibly Carolina Hurricanes practices.
Ammons won a $3 million grant from Wake County to help with the $14 million project. However, the status of that grant – and the project itself – was put into question after the DOT partnership originally pushed the McCrimmon extension timeline back to 2020 or 2021.
But Howell said Tuesday that the first phase is expected to be done in 2017, and the second phase in 2019.
Council member Steve Rao asked if any of the other state projects could be moved up as well.
“We are always talking with DOT about expediting projects,” Howell said. “Unfortunately, that usually means we have to put money in.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran